US researchers, writing in the Journal of Genetic Counselling, say a rise in genetic testing availability is prompting a need for access to services. While face-to-face counselling is ideal, this is not an option for people a long way from research centres.
‘The delivery of genetic test results for a disease like cancer can trigger a range of emotions and can be more distressful than anticipated – particularly when there’s been no counselling and the results are “positive”.’ said Beth Peshkin, a senior genetics counsellor at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington DC.
The trend for tests for adult onset conditions is likely to grow, she says. As a result, her team has set up a randomised trial comparing telephone genetic counselling with face-to-face genetic counselling for women at high risk of carrying the BRCA1/2 mutation.